Saturday, October 19, 2013

Life in Our World - D is for Done

D is for DONE.

This week I canned applesauce and grape juice.  I am done canning for the year since I only have three empty jars left on the shelf.  It fills so good to have them full.

The chickens made good use of the apple peelings and grape skins.  Chickens are like gumball machines, I feed them scraps and they give me eggs.  It's a pretty phenomenal return. 

D is for DONE.

The Statistics tutor became less helpful each time I visited with her and I seemed to get stupider after each session. I didn’t know quite what to do next and then Julie Phipps called and said she’d read I was having trouble in Statistics and volunteered her husband Steve to tutor me.  (Steve was a mentor to Ty at the Air Force Academy and also taught Statistics.  They now live down the road from us.)

I met with Steve for three evenings preparing for the final.  

Steve bolstered my confidence greatly in many ways.  One was by saying that the test questions we reviewed didn't make sense to him the way that they were written.  He also helped me understand a few basic things about Statistics. Namely, that all of those numbers represent a percentage. I had looked at p .07 > a .05 all course long and didn’t know that we were talking about things other than decimals and greater thans and less thans. But the minute Steve saw that same problem he said, “Okay, well this says that 70% of the women believe that Harrison Ford is still a handsome leading man (which sidetracked Julie and me into talking about Harrison Ford look-alikes). Suddenly all of those numbers came alive. They weren’t just some dot on the graph chart, the size of the bears in Yellowstone, or a grade on a bell-curve, they represented people and ideas.

Another time when Steve was teaching me about scatterplots he said, “When Hitler was bombing London he was using _____(a big type of artillery) and we couldn’t figure out whether he was aiming or if he was shooting at random, so we made a scatterplot for pattern detection to see if it was intentional.” Ohhhhh! Suddenly those dots were easy to read when you think they’re bomb droppings — bring on the battleship game. Which lead to a discussion about Germany’s initial bombing of London, which was an accident by a German airman who was disoriented in the air (I read about it in the 7 Tipping Points of Freedom that Changed the World earlier in the month, so that was nice having two random ideas collide and connect).

Steve also helped me to see that I would have to answer each question with a process of elimination, not with rote memorization. He taught me some important steps to help me eliminate the wrong answers.  Steve gave me more confidence (and told me not to base my opinion of Statistics on this experience), basic understanding, and helped me see the numbers as people, events, and ideas.  But because of the way the class was taught, he couldn't help me master the Z or T tables.  I needed to know how to run the equations with those tables for the test.

I was in a bind. I was stuck.  Statistics, for me, was like looking at a 3-D picture with the hidden pictures inside the art. I would study and stare at the problems and then when my eyes were just about to cross from being so statistic weary, I would get a glimmer of understanding.  I knew from prior experience, however, that if I didn’t act quickly that glimmer would leave, just like it does when looking at 3-D pictures, and I’d have to start all over again.

The scheduled day for the final came and I didn’t know whether to act quickly and take the test before I lost the glimmer, or to postpone it and keep trying to crack the code for a better chance at passing. I knew some, but did I know enough? 

What I did know was that 200 hours and $600 were at stake and the longer I looked at 200 and 600 the bigger the numbers seemed to get. I also knew that “the Lord gives no commandment . . . save He prepares a way” – I’ve been preaching that for three weeks now in seminary and institute – and as Pres. Uchtdorf says, “Education is not simply a good idea, it’s a commandment.” But would "the way" be provided on the day I hoped or would my "education" include failing.  That I did not know.  But I did know that 200 and 600 and my sanity were at stake.

I called the tutor for one last stab at the Z and T tables.  When I asked her how I was ever going to remember a certain equation, she said, “Practice. Practice. Practice” like a tight-lipped, hair-in-a-bun, ruler-in-her-hand, school teacher might say. And though I wanted to say that practice makes things permanent not perfect, and if I couldn’t practice correctly I would come out permanently dumber than ever, I still felt stupid at her tone and answer.  I got off the phone with her and truly didn’t know what to do. I was really discouraged.

I looked at my phone and saw a mass text that Calvin had sent to all of our kids saying "pray for Mom she's taking the Statistics final," and all of the subsequent texts and phone messages of encouragement and offered prayers.  I wanted to cry, I felt so appreciative of the kids' and Calvin's support, but was afraid I’d let them down and that I'd already worn them thin with my incessant fretting.

I was at the seminary building when I finished talking to the tutor, so I went into the bathroom stall and prayed telling Heavenly Father that I didn’t know what to do, whether I should go with what I knew so I didn't risk losing what I’d gained in the last fifteen hours of studying, or put more time and effort in and postpone the test.  I told Him how badly the money/time waste worried me if I failed and that that extra worry was sapping any confidence Steve had helped me regain.  I asked Him to help me know whether I knew enough to pass.

I went back to my desk, still not sure what to do when Ray called. He simply said, “Janey Payney, you’re going to eat this test! You’re going to crush it!” I smiled, not feeling at all like I could pass it let alone eat it, but knowing that I’d just asked for direction about whether or not to take the test and Ray’s call of confidence came.  It was enough encouragement for me to take it.

Bishop Stones was my proctor and as he opened the test he said, “Would you like me to say a prayer before you take it?” So he did and then I began taking it.

The test was 91 questions and it took three hours.  When I finished, I knew I didn’t know 10 of the answers, wasn't sure on another 10, and would probably miss at least another 10 to error.  I hoped I would only miss those 30.  I could pass if I only missed 30.

All week I kept checking my e-mail hoping for the grade.  By the end of the week, I started to get really nervous and dreaded the news.  My prayers had changed from “please help me to know when to take the test,” to “please help me to pass the test,” to “please help me handle the news if I don't pass when I open the e-mail."

On Thursday, right after teaching seminary, I sat down to check the e-mail and saw a notification that the test was graded. I dreaded opening the document.

Calvin walked in at that very moment and said, “Hey Janey Payney! Let’s go to lunch."

I told him the test score was in.  He said, "And? . . . "  then came over and read the e-mail with me. I didn't have to read it alone.    

It was a D, 66%! I was so very happy. So very, very happy. I do believe I ate it since I passed with 11% more correct answers than needed. And that is a statistical difference folks.

We went out to the pick-up and offered a prayer of gratitude, then went to Inca’s to celebrate.

While I may still not be able to tell you when to run a T-test or a Z-test or ANOVA or a Chi-square test, I can tell you that the Lord is mindful of us. While my passing Statistics may not have been a priority on His list, passing Statistics was a priority on my list and I am one of His priorities.  The Lord reminded me of that again through this class. Not only did Julie offering Steve's help get me over the hump, but the kids' prayers gave me courage and helped me retain and connect concepts. Several times during the test I thought, “Hey! I know this! I just studied it!” More than once I realized that I would have forgotten the answer to that particular problem had I waited another day to take the test.  Finally, Calvin walking in to invite me to lunch at the right time was the frosting on the cake.

D is for 66%, and for difficult, and for done, and for darn glad the Lord helped me pass the first time.

D is for done.

We had frost this week.  The garden is done.  

It's Saturday night and the laundry, vacuuming, dusting, dishes, and grocery shopping are done . . . and, bonus, clean sheets are on the bed too.  Just in time for Sunday.

D is for done.  Good night.


Francie said...

I don't know you, but I love your blog. Congratulations on passing your exam! :))

Deidra said...

This made me tear up. Today was our primary program and several kids mentioned praying for help in school/on tests, and I sort of dismissed them as being sweet and young. But you've reminded me that The Lord is always mindful of us, whether it's a 4th grade spelling test, a college statistics test, or anything else we stand in need of. Th kids knew what they were talkin about. Congratulations!!

This week we're supposed to get our first frost. The garden has been limping along, but I haven't had the heart to rip it out as long as it was still going. Good riddance! …until next year!

Alisa said...

Oh hooray! I loved every bit of this post!

Melissa said...

You don't know me, but I've been reading your and your children's blogs for a while now, but I just had to comment today. I am so so so proud and happy for you! What a great thing to conquer something so difficult. I really struggled in statistics too. It was my only C+ in my entire schooling career and I have two college degrees! I really struggled finishing my Master's thesis and I worried and stressed over it like you wouldn't believe. Thank goodness Heavenly Father loves us so much that he sends us help just when we really need it. You are an inspiration and I always think we would be great friends. We think alike and you are a happy person, just like me. Congratulations again!

Nicole said...

I think a D in statistics is equivalent to an A in any other subject. Congrats Jane. I understand your pleas to Heavenly Father to help on your final I have been there. We will celebrate this weekend!

Jill said...

Congratulations!! I love this post and all the tender mercies in it. It's so cute that Ray and Calvin call you Janey Paney!

Going bananas said...

D is for delightful. I loved this post. Congratulations on passings stats!

Marcia said...

This is going to teach future teachers a thing or two. Thanks for writing so powerfully what Frank Smith also preached. Classic.
Wahooo for passing despite your education:)

Haley Krumblis said...

YAY!!! I've been wondering about your stats course and if you were done yet. How about next time we see each other we celebrate again because you are DONE!!!! So exciting!

melanie said...

I'm so proud of you, you DID it!!

I sure hope the tutor find a different on campus job. Boo.

Cali said...

I loved you pun about the canning jars ;)

Becky said...

Hooray!!! I am back in school and incredibly busy but I have felt so much guidance from the Lird while doing my schoolwork it has been incredible.

I have missed reading your posts, Jane!

Lynn C. Jaynes said...

Congratulations, Jane. "It isn't the hills you climb that are so difficult, it's the pebble in your shoe." And I think your pebble was statistics. Good for you.

Lynn C. Jaynes said...

Congratulations, Jane. "It isn't the mountains you climb that are so difficult, it's the pebble in your shoe." And I think statistics was your pebble. Nice job.